The physician shortage is due to a combination of issues facing the healthcare industry. One issue, in particular, is the amount of medical tests and procedures being performed that are essentially unnecessary. Therefore, it’s an issue that can be easily avoided. So, what gives?
Numbers Don’t Lie
The ABIM Foundation conducted their own survey to delve into the details of this issue. According to their survey, 66% of physicians believe they have the responsibility to avoid their patients receiving unessential care. Yet, more than half of the physicians surveyed admitted to prescribing such care with their patient’s insistence fully aware it was unneeded. A concerning 72% of physicians believe that the average physician orders unnecessary care at least once a week.
This survey undoubtedly paints a clearer picture of the issue on hand and its simple solution. Just explaining why a certain exam or procedure is unnecessary, 70% of physicians agreed that a patient will more often than not avoid it.
The ABIM Foundation was founded to help aid the advancement and improvement of the health care system, that can only be possible with the collaboration of physicians, policy makers, and countless organizations. In efforts to improve medical practice, ABIM launched Choosing Wisely, an initiative to bring physicians together to discuss important topics and find solutions to pressing issues, such as unnecessary medical exams and procedures. More than 250 procedures and exams have been identified as overused and/or inappropriate by a number of medical specialty societies under Choosing Wisely.
However much Choosing Wisely is making a difference, ABIM’s president and CEO, Richard J. Baron, MD believes physicians and patients alike have a role in this issue’s solution. “Avoiding unnecessary medical care is important because care that is not needed can be harmful to patients, and unnecessary care raises health care costs for everyone,” Baron said.
A Little More Conversation, A Little Less Action
The severe issue of unnecessary medical exams and procedures really can be solved simply by having that conversation with your patients. “Conversations between doctors and patients about what care is and isn’t necessary have always been hard. Only by shedding light on these issues, and being transparent about which tests and procedures might not be needed, will we help create a sustainable culture of health in America,” states John R. Lumpkin, MD, RWJF senior vice president.